How to Determine a Career Path After College

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Many recent graduates from college are faced with a difficult decision. Ever since birth, people get ushered along a predetermined trajectory through school and other socializing institutions. Other than choosing a focus of study and college to attend, students don’t have to make many difficult choices. This is partially why graduates are so troubled when it comes time to choose a career path. Fortunately, there are some strategies that can be implemented to simplify this process. Here are 11 tips for finding the right career path after college.

  1. Take a gap year.

It’s important to realize that society has been constructed in a uniform and purposeful manner. After graduating from grade school, children continue onto high school and eventually college. Upon graduating, a vast majority of students enter the workforce immediately and remain there until retirement. While there is nothing wrong with this trajectory, it is critical to remember that this isn’t the only path. If you are struggling with finding a career path because the transition doesn’t feel right, consider taking a gap year. Whether that time is spent traveling or working part time, a gap year can provide you with insights and ideas that would have been quelled by work.

  1. Take a career test.

A career test is a great tool that can be used when determining a career path after college. During these evaluations, participants are asked a series of detailed questions intended to highlight some of the strengths, skills, and interests exhibited by the test takers. From these results, career analysts can determine a concrete list of occupations that may fit an individual’s particular interests and abilities. While these career tests cannot provide a perfect solution for everyone, they are a great way of translating personalities into actual occupations. While some of these tests print results from a computer, there are others that include a consultation with a career counselor. These individuals specialize in helping recent graduates find meaningful work in relation to their personal strengths. It’s a good idea to find a career test that includes one of these meetings.

  1. Volunteer in a non-profit organization.

Although money is required to buy necessities like food and shelter, there is more to life than making an income. Some people who feel disenchanted with the entire process of finding a career may want to consider volunteering. There are countless non-profit organizations that offer accommodation and food in exchange for work. You’ll have an opportunity to make the world a better place and take a break from the career search. There are many programs like Peace Corps that even offer volunteers an opportunity to work in remote places around the world.

  1. Apply for some internships.

Internships are a great way to learn more about a particular field before entering into a permanent position. Many companies offer recent graduates a position in their organization for a few months or even an entire year. The point of an internship is to allow an individual to become acquainted with a certain field or role. There are several benefits to interning at an organization. First and foremost, the experience can help you determine whether that particular career path is viable. Secondly, internships look great on resumes no matter where you’re applying.

  1. Explore your hobbies and passions.

There’s an old adage about choosing a career path that says, “Find something you love, and find a way to make money doing it”. While this may sound wishful, idealistic, and hopeful, there is some truth to this message. Everyone needs to find a way to earn a living after college, but too many people assume that this means getting a ‘normal’ job that isn’t enjoyable. Before determining your career path, it is advisable to explore your varying passions. Instead of only seeing these hobbies, you should consider how they could be turned into an income. There is nothing more rewarding than earning money by doing that you love.

  1. Find a source of income.

Many recent graduates have the ability to live with their parents until a career path is determined. While this can be a great aid in the decision-making process, it is important to not rely on this situation for too long. If you find that determining a career path will take some considerable time, it is important to find a source of income in the meantime. This will provide you with sustenance to live and will ensure that you don’t become complacent and reliant on others. Furthermore, working in certain fields may help you determine which areas are of particular interest and which are not.

  1. Talk with peers who have figured out their path.

When making the difficult choice regarding a career path, it can be easy to feel alone. In reality, there are millions of people struggling with the same decision at any given time. There are even many adults making a career change who are still determining their path. Instead of remaining isolated, it can be helpful to talk to other peers who have already figured out their career choice. You can ask these individuals how they arrived at their decision and what was helpful in the process. While it can be therapeutic to confide in others who haven’t yet determined their career path, this can also leave you feeling hopeless.

  1. Read about your options.

Although the school system does a great job of educating students, the curriculum follows strict guidelines. The skills learned and the topics covered in a standard school setting are only applicable to a few of the myriad fields in which students can go after graduating. Many people struggle to find a career path after college because their perspective has been limited. Before making a career choice, you should read about all of the possible options that are available. This can be accomplished with a few internet searches.

  1. Make a solid choice.

When faced with the difficult task of selecting a career path, many people fall into limbo. Instead of making a tough choice, they would rather remain stagnant despite their unhappiness. This can result in people living with their parents late into their 30’s or people taking a dead-end job which they hate. Although the decision can be daunting, it is critical to make a decision. Carrying on in the wrong career path may be better than staying in limbo without making any progress at all.

  1. Realize there is always room for change.

Many people make the mistake of assuming that their career path will be one straight trajectory. There is a common misconception amongst recent graduates that their first job choice will be a permanent decision. Although there are times when people land their dream job after college and never look back, a vast majority of individuals go through career changes multiple times throughout their life. When determining a career path after college, it is important to remember that there is always a possibility for change in the future. Nothing has to be set in stone.

  1. Start your own business.

Some recent graduates struggle to find the right career path because they’re only considering occupations that involve working for somebody else. There are some people who simply cannot have a boss determining their schedules each week and giving commands each day. Instead of begrudgingly working for another person, these individuals should consider starting their own company. There are thousands of thriving businesses started every year. Although there is some inherent risk involved with building a company from scratch, taking a job for another company isn’t without risks either. When working for another person, you face the risk of being fired or the company failing altogether.

Determining a career path after college doesn’t have to be a daunting process. While there are some unique challenges that graduates face, a little determination and confidence should be enough to handle these difficulties. With these 11 tips, you can be one step closer to finding the best career path.


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